Vacation mishap makes story

Hearing about students and families on spring breaks this last week or so has brought out a streak of jealously in me.

I did spend a few spring breaks backpacking, though, and actually had one beach vacation when I was in college. It wasn’t your typical beach spring break, though.

A buddy and I who were both into scuba diving at the time decided Blue Hole and Conchas Lake weren’t going to cut it any longer; we wanted warm salt water some reef action and an adventure.

After researching the nearest good dive spots that were in driving range of our spring break, we decided on the Guaymas area of northwest Mexico on the Gulf of California. More precisely, we had in mind the beaches near a village called San Carlos. The village’s biggest claim to fame was that it was where the movie “Catch 22” was filmed.

It promised to be cheap, Americano friendly and camping on the beaches was allowed according to the travel guide we had checked out of the library to take with us. We budgeted for one evening of hotel and nightlife coming and going and intended to economize by taking a cooler and sleeping on the beach.

Things went pretty well on the trip down and after something like 17 hours on the road we arrived on the coast only to find that the water, normally clear and blue, is pretty murky that time of year. It was nothing compared to Conchas and we made the best of it.

The first night on the beach we became well acquainted with two pests we hadn’t figured on — sand fleas and a herd of marauding Mexican cows at midnight that couldn’t be hazed away from our camp with any persuasion that two farm boys could muster.

Morning dawned bright and we went to the dive shop in San Carlos to refill the tanks for the day’s dive. As we were loading equipment in the trunk of my car I inadvertently dropped my keys, the only set we had, on the floor of the trunk and locked them in there.

That’s when our Spanish began to get tested. How do you say “we need to borrow some tools so we can take out the backseat of my car?”

We were finally successful in breaking into the car but we must have attracted some attention in the parking lot. Because later, while we were diving, banditos hit the car and nearly cleaned us out of cash and valuables. Travelers checks, we didn’t need no stinking travelers checks.

Fortunately my buddy, the suspicious sort, had duct taped emergency money up under the dash when we set out. Still, the budget vacation had to be curtailed while we still had gas money to get home.

We didn’t do enough diving but we have a spring break story we still tell over 30 years later.